|Posted on September 6, 2014 at 8:35 PM|
LEGAL MYTH OF THE WEEK (or so). Week Three: What happens if I die without a will
Myth – If I die without a will my property will revert to the state.
Truth – The only time that property ends up with the state after a person dies without a will (dies intestate) is if no relatives can be found. The State of California, as well as other states, has a default order of inheritance, called intestate succession, for people that die without a will. The first is spouse (for community property) or spouse and children (for separate property). If no spouse, then children, if no children then grandchildren and other descendants, if none then parents, then siblings, then nieces and nephews, etc.
What a will does accomplish is to allow for giving property to other people or in other proportions than by the default scheme. In the will you can nominate an executor that will be in charge of carrying out the will. Also, you can nominate a guardian of the estate and of the person for minor children, and give instructions for your burial and funeral.
The State Bar pamphlet linked below has more information.